Vicente Luque did not live up to his reputation as a ruthless finisher, but he showcased important new wrinkles to his game and overcame a year’s worth of adversity. A well-rounded Luque stifled the gameplan of Rafael dos Anjos to earn a unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Saturday’s combatants had a lot to fight for. Luque was sidelined for a year after suffering a brain bleed in his first career knockout loss against Geoff Neal. Dos Anjos, a former lightweight champion, recently made the move to welterweight permanent in pursuit of being world champ again.
All respect to these two after going all 5 rounds 👏 #UFCVegas78 pic.twitter.com/ff9u3eAIkb
— UFC (@ufc) August 13, 2023
Luque has finished 13 opponents in 14 UFC fights — the third highest finish per win percentage in UFC history — but stopping one of UFC’s most experienced and battle-tested veterans is a tough ask. Dos Anjos’ gameplan was rather straight forward: punch his way inside and take down the younger, harder striker.
Luque not only showed significant improvements in his takedown defense but he also displayed poise and maturity in scoring his own takedowns. RDA finally opened up in Round 5 with his striking and was doing rather well, but it was too little too late. Luque scored a career-best five takedowns.
“It’s a miracle I’m here. I’ve never feared anything but I feared never coming back in here,” Luque said in his post-fight interview. “In the first round, I was afraid of being hit. It’s been a year. I didn’t know how I’d react.”
Luque bounced back from the first consecutive losses of a professional career boasting more than 30 fights. Dos Anjos is 1-1 in his last two as he closes in on 50 pro bouts at 38 years old.
Luque called for an opponent ranked inside the UFC’s official top five as he makes a run towards UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards.